Engineering Materials Features

Delve more deeply in to the world of materials innovation. Our expert editors bring you a host of the latest thinking, innovation, materials views and opinions from industry about how to improve design and what you should be thinking about when it comes to questions about materials in design and engineering.

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What role will materials play in making microfluidics a success?

Up until a few days ago I was pretty much unaware of microfluidics despite unwittingly being reliant on them. From blood vessels to the way moisture flows through plants, examples of microfluidics are everywhere in nature and much, if not all, of the life on the planet is driven by their function. The process that nature has been so elegantly able to exploit is increasingly being industrialised for a host of applications.  Read More


The challenges of getting greener materials into industry

Sustainability is the word of the moment. Governments want everything to be underpinned by it and companies are at pains to stress their commitment to it. Economic, environmental and political factors are increasingly driving everyone to look at how to engineer a more sustainable future.  Read More


Virtually refined: The engineering success story behind the 2012 Olympics

The design and manufacture of Great Britain's gold medal winning bike helped athletes in the last three Olympic Games win medals.  Read More


DIY Metallurgy: Making your own metals and alloys

For many, Formula One is the pinnacle. Not only does it attract some of the best drivers in the world, but its engineers are widely regarded as some of today's most motivated and talented.  Read More


Testing techniques to analyse and control surface properties of materials

There are numerous techniques for manipulating the surface properties of a material. Heat treatment, anodising, shot blasting, peening, plating, painting; the list goes on.   Read More


Can the bio-plastic known as polylactic acid (PLA) be used in engineering?

The corn derived bio-plastic polylactic acid (PLA) has largely stood in the shadows of oil derived plastics since its discovery some eighty years ago. However, with increasing talk of potential uses, what has changed?   Read More


Recycled materials find use in automotive interiors

The automotive industry is perhaps one of the most prominent when it comes to trying new materials in high volume production.  Read More


K Show to set plastics industry agenda

Dubbed the world's premier trade fair for plastics and rubber, K 2013 has just about every industry player present and promises to set out the future developments, trends and challenges facing both material manufacturers and users.  Read More


Engineering foams look set to make a comeback

Slightly odd looking and – well – quirky, you can see that a recent partnership between Toyota and French design house, Studio Massaud, was about challenging convention. The appearance ME.WE concept car certainly does that by using body panels made of expanded foam known as Arpro.  Read More


Testing equipment adapts to aerospace industry's move to composites

You might be worried going around British Airways Engineering Heathrow maintenance and repair facility inside Heathrow airport. There are parts everywhere from flaps to engine covers to doors all in need of attention by the facilities skilled maintenance engineers and technicians. Its state of the art workshops make sure the airline's 256 aircraft, and some third party aircraft, operate safely, economically and with the least amount of downtime.  Read More


Why are so many engineers still reluctant to use engineering plastics?

There are three main drivers for changing materials in the current engineering and industrial climate. The first, and most obvious, is cost. The second is to lower weight. And the third is to increase performance.  Read More


Thermoplastics to revolutionaise the composites industry?

Nothing about composites is average or conventional. While offering some of the best strength/stiffness-to-weight ratios of any material, it is difficult to produce and inherently expensive.   Read More


They may be sustainable, but how good are flax and jute for the engineer?

You may think that the use of natural fibres like flax or jute in composite parts is all about ticking a box for environmental credentials. In many cases, you'd be right, but increasingly natural materials are finding applications where they can offer some distinct advantages.  Read More


Bridge failure sparks concern over hydrogen embrittlement

Engineers know hydrogen embrittlement is a bad thing. However, ask many to explain what it is and how to avoid it, and you may be met by silence. The phenomenon occurs when hydrogen atoms penetrate the crystalline molecular structure of metals and weaken the bonds.  Read More


Superhydrophobic and oleophobic coating repels almost any liquid

Florida based UltraTech International has produced what it is calling Ultra-Ever Dry. The coating uses a proprietary nanotechnology that when applied to an object creates a near translucent white barrier on the surface. After a 30 minute cure in the open air, treated objects are able to repel water and oil based liquids with amazing efficiency.  Read More


Mass production of composites solved

Successfully utilising composite structures to produce vehicles requires substantial improvements in the tools used for end-to-end product development.   Read More


Woven or unwoven fibres?

With evermore applications being found for reinforced composites, increasing questions are being asked about the best methods of using fibre and resin in a matrix.   Read More


Bloodhound: Choosing the best materials for the job

You can imagine the phone call, can't you? Project leader Richard Noble, enthusiastic and nonchalant as ever, asking about the materials for the wheels of Bloodhound, the car that aims to break the 1000mph barrier.  Read More


New price comparison site is dedicated to engineering materials

A price comparison website has recently launched that is specifically aimed at the buying and selling of engineering materials.   Read More


Additives and fillers: Getting the balance right

One of the greatest things about plastic is the ability to manipulate its properties. This allows a great deal of tailoring to make the material fit for purpose.  Read More


Physical testing remains vital for product development

The use of software and virtual tools within engineering have become increasingly commonplace over the last 10 years. Now, everything from concepts to materials to analysis is done virtually, via a computer.  Read More


Lightweight materials help automotive sector meet tough targets

The automotive sector is under extreme pressure to reduce tailpipe emissions with decisive and tough 'must meet' targets looming ever closer.   Read More


Material innovations help combat oil and gas challenges

While Formula 1 might push the limits of physical properties it is for a relatively short amount of time. Yet many oil and gas platforms are still in operation 25 years after initially being built.  Read More


Making plastic conduct

Electrically conductive plastic simplifies designs and reduces costs.  Read More


Material innovation combats rail fatigue

Materials innovation BEEAs winner Howard Smith, a research metallurgist at Tata Steel Europe, outlines the motivation and technology developed for combating rolling contact fatigue on the railway.  Read More

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